Tomb Raider (1996 video game)
|Platform(s)||Sega Saturn, MS-DOS, PlayStation, N-Gage, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, Macintosh|
Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released in 1996 for Sega Saturn, PlayStation and MS-DOS. Tomb Raider was released for N-Gage devices in 2003, and for the PlayStation Network in North America in August 2009, and in Europe in August 2010. Tomb Raider follows the exploits of Lara Croft, an English archaeologist in search of ancient treasures.
The game received critical acclaim, with some critics declaring it as one of the greatest video games ever made. The game was commercially successful, selling over 7 million copies worldwide. The game is considered widely influential, serving as a template for many 3D action-adventure games that would follow.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 4 Alternate versions, special editions and remakes
- 5 Reception
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The player controls the archaeologist Lara Croft in search of the three mysterious Scion artefacts across the world. The game is presented in third person perspective. Lara is always visible and the camera follows the action by peering over Lara's shoulders by default, but the player can also control the camera to get a better look at Lara's surroundings. The game also automatically switches to a different camera view at key points, either to give the player a wider look at a new area or to add a cinematic effect. The world she inhabits is fully drawn in three dimensions and characterised by its cubic nature. Ledges, walls, and ceilings mostly sit at 90 degrees to each other, but sometimes feature sloping planes.
The object of Tomb Raider is to guide Lara through a series of tombs and other locations in search of treasures and artefacts. On the way, she must kill dangerous animals and creatures, while collecting objects and solving puzzles. Gunplay is not restricted to the killing of various animals and occasional human opponents; Lara can fire her weapons at any time. However, the emphasis lies on exploring, solving puzzles, and navigating Lara's surroundings to complete each level. As such, Tomb Raider in essence harkens back to the classical form of platform style gameplay.
Movement in the game is varied and allows for complex interactions with the environment. Besides walking, running, and jumping, Lara can perform side-steps, hang on ledges, roll over, dive, and swim through water. In a free environment, Lara has two basic stances: one with weapons drawn and one with her hands free. When her weapons are drawn, she automatically locks on to any nearby targets. Locking onto nearby targets prevents her from performing other actions which require her hands, such as grabbing onto ledges to prevent falling. By default she carries two pistols with infinite ammo. Additional weapons include the shotgun, dual magnums and dual Uzis. If Lara is confronted with more than one enemy when she has one of the dual weapons equipped, she aims at two targets simultaneously, one with each gun. At a certain point in the story, Lara will be stripped of all her weapons, leaving the player defenceless and forced to recover her pistols, a development which later became a staple of the series. Numerous enemies as well as a variety of lethal traps can bring about Lara's death, including falling, burning, drowning, electrocution, becoming impaled on spikes, killed by human enemies, or creatures and being turned into gold by the hand of Midas.
A general action button is used to perform a wide range of movements in Tomb Raider, such as picking up items, pulling switches, firing guns, pushing or pulling blocks, and grabbing onto ledges. Items to pick up include ammo, small and large medi-packs, keys and artefacts required to complete a stage. Any item that is collected is held onto in Lara's inventory until it is used. Throughout each stage, one or more secrets may be located. Discovering these secrets is optional, and when the player has found one a tune plays. The locations of these secrets vary in difficulty to reach. The player is usually rewarded with extra items.
In the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions of Tomb Raider, saving the game is restricted to fixed save points within each level, marked by a floating blue crystal or by completing the level. When Lara touches one of these the option to save is made available. The DOS version of the game allows the player to save at any time. A stage is finished when a certain doorway is reached, an artefact is recovered, or a boss is destroyed.
In Los Alamos County, New Mexico, a nuclear test causes a great explosion which exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert surface. The device unlocks and reveals a person in suspended animation. In the present day Calcutta, archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft is approached by Larson Conway, a hired man working for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla, owner of a corporation called Natla Technologies. Natla asks Lara to recover a mysterious artefact known as the Scion (//) from the lost tomb of Qualopec, in the mountains of Peru. After taking the Scion, Lara is attacked by Larson, who explains that the artefact she has is only a fragment and that a man named Pierre Dupont has been hired by Natla to collect the rest.
Lara breaks into Natla Technologies to find out Pierre's whereabouts and discovers a medieval monk's journal, which reveals the depths of an ancient monastery of St. Francis in Greece to house the tomb of Tihocan, a ruler of Atlantis, along with a second piece of the Scion. Travelling to a monastery, Lara descends through an expansive underground complex while being pursued and attacked throughout by Pierre. At the tomb of Tihocan, Lara recovers the second piece of the Scion and kills Pierre. When combining two Scion pieces, Lara sees a vision which reveals that the third and final piece of the Scion is in the City of Khamoon, a temple complex in Egypt. There, she battles the fierce mutants, and is confronted by Larson, this time in a battle to the death. After Lara obtains the final piece of the Scion, Natla takes the complete Scion and orders her men to kill Lara. Lara escapes and stows away on Natla's boat, which takes her to an unknown volcanic island.
After making her way through the mines dispatching Natla's men and the mutant-infested interior of Atlantis, Lara reaches the heart of the pyramid chamber, where the Scion has been fused together as a source of power. As she touches the artefact, Lara's earlier vision becomes clearer, revealing that Natla is the third ruler of Atlantis; she betrayed two other rulers, Qualopec and Tihocan, by abusing the power of the Scion for genetic experimentation to create a mutant breed, and as punishment is imprisoned in a stasis cell. Natla enters the chamber and reveals her intentions: having reclaimed the artefacts, she attempts to restore her former power with an army of mutants. Lara attempts to shoot the Scion, but Natla tackles her off the platform and falls into the crevasse. After defeating a large, legless mutant, Lara destroys the Scion, kills the mutated and winged Natla, and escapes the island by Natla's boat.
Preliminary work on Tomb Raider commenced in 1993. The title was crafted by Core Design of Derby, England, who took 18 months to develop it. The team consisted of six people, among them Toby Gard, who is credited with the creation of Lara Croft. The character went through several changes before Core settled on the version she became famous for. Initially Gard designed a male character to be the star of Tomb Raider. As he began working on the design document, Core were planning on giving players a choice of player characters, so he designed an early form of Lara to be the female alternative. Later realizing that having two player characters would double the amount of work required for the cutscenes, Gard cut the player characters back down by eliminating the male character, since he liked Lara better. Gard cited Virtua Fighter as an influence on this decision: "It became clear to me watching people play Virtua Fighter, which was kind of the first big 3D-character console game, that even though there were only two female characters in the lineup, in almost every game I saw being played, someone was picking one of the two females."
Lara Croft was originally named "Laura Cruz". As her backstory began to take shape and it was decided that she would become more English and that it would be a major part of who the character was, her name was changed to reflect this. According to Toby Gard, the idea to make her more akin to a female Indiana Jones was not present from the beginning. In fact, in early concepts, Lara originally had a cold-blooded militaristic-type personality, but Gard and the team decided to create and play up the "proper English lady" aspect of her character to establish that there was more to Lara's personality and life than just her immediate actions during Tomb Raider's gameplay.
A three-dimensional action-adventure like Tomb Raider was unprecedented at the time, and the development team struggled to find a way to make Toby Gard's vision for the game work on contemporary hardware, in particular getting the player character to interact with freeform environments. According to programmer Gavin Rummery, the decision to build the entire game world on a grid was the key breakthrough to making the game possible. Though the 3D platforming gameplay, player character abilities, and focus on exploration have been likened to Super Mario 64, the developers have denied it was an influence on Tomb Raider, and development on Tomb Raider started well before Super Mario 64 had been shown to the public.
The front of the Derby Studios building where Core Design worked on the game was later used as the front of Croft Manor. It is Core's contention that the company was struggling somewhat with 32-bit development at that time. The first glints of the game were seen on Sega Saturn development kits. However, Gard stated that though Core and Sega had a deal for Tomb Raider to be a timed exclusive for the Saturn, the game was developed simultaneously for the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation. Following the release of the Saturn version, a number of bugs were discovered that affected both versions of the game; because of the timed exclusivity, the development team fixed these bugs for the PlayStation version. While the series would see four more instalments on the original PlayStation, no additional Tomb Raider games were released for the Saturn. Additional Sega ports were released on the Dreamcast.
Shelley Blond provided the voice of Lara Croft for the game. She recalled, "I was asked to perform her voice in a very plain non-emotive manner and in a 'female Bond' type of way. I would have added more inflection, tone and emotion to my voice but they wanted to keep it how they felt it should sound, which was quite right. My job was to bring their character to life."
The music for Tomb Raider was composed by Nathan McCree. Unlike most other games of the time, there was not a musical track playing constantly throughout the game; instead, limited musical cues would play only during specially-selected moments to produce a dramatic effect, such as enhancing tension during an action sequence or accompanying the discovery of a hidden secret, in much the same way as a film is typically scored. For the majority of the game, the only audio heard is action-based effects (e.g. footsteps or explosions), atmospheric sounds (like the roar of a nearby waterfall), and Lara's own grunts and sighs, all of which were enhanced because they did not have to compete with music. According to McCree, the game was scored this way because he was allotted very little time for the job, forcing him to quickly write pieces without any thought to where they would go in the game. When the soundtrack was finally applied, the developers found that the tunes worked best when applied to specific places.
The game uses a solo oboe melody for the main theme. Variations of this main theme have been used in all of the Tomb Raider games. The soundtrack of Anniversary was composed by Troels Brun Folmann, loosely based on the original.
Alternate versions, special editions and remakes
Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business and Tomb Raider Gold
In 1998, shortly after the release of Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider was re-released on the PC. This release, titled Tomb Raider Gold - The Shadow of the Cat in North America, and Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business elsewhere, featured the regular game as well as two new expert chapters ("Shadow of the Cat" and "Unfinished Business") in four levels, two levels each. The levels for Tomb Raider Gold were created in the San Francisco office of Eidos by Phil Campbell, Rebecca Shearin, and Gary LaRochelle.
The first chapter of the game takes place in Egypt, and occurs several months after the events of Tomb Raider. The story sees Lara returning to the City of Khamoon to investigate a mysterious statue of the Egyptian goddess Bast. This leads to her discovery of a new temple dedicated to the cat deity, which includes a giant gold statue several stories high. The second chapter takes place before those of the first chapter—after the events of Tomb Raider. This chapter starts with Lara sliding down the same slope as in Tomb Raider's final level, and finishes with her destroying the last remnants of the Atlantean Race.
Shadow of the Cat features two levels: "Return to Egypt" and "Temple of the Cat". Unfinished Business features two other levels, called: "Atlantean Stronghold" and "The Hive".
The Tomb Raider series' popularity began to stagnate in the early 2000s, and dropped after the critical and commercial failure of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Core Design was sold to Rebellion Developments, and development of the Tomb Raider series was handed to Crystal Dynamics, best known for Legacy of Kain. Tomb Raider: Legend was released in 2006, the story focused on the mythological King Arthur and the legendary Excalibur. The game started a new timeline with a different incarnation of Lara Croft. The game became critically and commercially successful, selling 4.5 million units.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
The first hint about a remake of the original Tomb Raider was a financial release from SCi Entertainment that revealed a game Tomb Raider 10th Anniversary Edition for PSP, which was supposed to be released in summer 2006. Another hint appeared as a rumour on 30 May 2006: "Eidos/SCi are planning on celebrating Lara's 10th birthday by releasing a remake of her original adventure". A video game trailer showing footage of a new Tomb Raider game was distributed on the Internet on 8 June 2006. The titles and logos of the trailer claimed that the title was Lara Croft Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, a PSP game by Core Design. The trailer featured Lara Croft in familiar yet remodelled environments from the original Tomb Raider. On 15 June 2006, Core Design released a statement claiming that the trailer was "an internal presentation of a game that was being developed by Core Design until very recently", and had been cancelled by SCi.
However, on 16 June, Eidos Interactive announced a 10th Anniversary Edition of Tomb Raider, being developed by Crystal Dynamics instead of Core Design. On 30 October 2006 Eidos announced that this new instalment in the series would be named Tomb Raider: Anniversary. The game is a retelling of the first Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released for PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, Wii, and Windows platforms. The PlayStation 2 and PC versions were released on 1 June 2007 in Europe, and in the US] on 5 June 2007. The PSP version was released in June, the Xbox 360 version was released in October and the Wii version was released 14 November. The Xbox 360 version of the video game was made available for download from the Xbox Live Marketplace in November 2007 with the Tomb Raider: Legend disc being required to use it. However, the game was also released later on disc to retailers, just like all of the other versions. A mobile version of Tomb Raider Anniversary was developed by FinBlade.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released and remastered in HD for the PlayStation 3, which came in a package alongside Legend and Underworld.
On 5 March 2013, Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is given control of a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. In contrast to the earlier games Croft is portrayed as vulnerable, acting out of necessity, desperation and sheer survival rather than for a greater cause or personal gain.
Tomb Raider remains the most critically acclaimed game in the long-running franchise, and has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Upon its release in 1996, the game was widely praised by gaming magazines for its variety and depth of control, revolutionary graphics, intriguing environments, and use of occasional combat to maintain an atmosphere of tension. Ryan MacDonald of GameSpot summarized, "Take the puzzle solving of Resident Evil, the gory action of Loaded, and the 360-degree freedom most gamers only dream of, and you have Tomb Raider, the closest thing to a 'Super Mario 64 killer' to date." The game tied with the Saturn version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 for Electronic Gaming Monthly's "Game of the Month", with their review team saying it "really stands out from the rest of the pack" and "is the best PlayStation game to date." Next Generation called it "a thought-provoking, riveting action-adventure easily on par in intensity with any of Hollywood's finest efforts" and "a landmark title for this generation, and one that's sure to be imitated many times over."
Some critics rated the PlayStation version as better than the Saturn version. MacDonald said that its graphics were sharper, and Bro' Buzz of GamePro scored it a half point higher than the Saturn version in every category (control, sound, graphics, and FunFactor), remarking, "After a solid showing for the Saturn, Tomb Raider scores even higher." However, Next Generation stated that they would not bother to review the PlayStation version because the differences between it and the Saturn version "are negligible." Similarly, Electronic Gaming Monthly only reviewed the PlayStation version, and stated in a feature on the game that Core "has taken special care to ensure that the Saturn and the PlayStation versions of the game play equally well. The graphics certainly look identical."
Tomb Raider was Computer Games Strategy Plus's 1996 overall game of the year, and won the magazine's award for the year's best "3D Action" game as well. It also was a finalist for CNET Gamecenter's 1996 "Best Action Game" award, which ultimately went to Quake. Electronic Gaming Monthly named Tomb Raider a runner-up for both "PlayStation Game of the Year" (behind Tekken 2) and "Saturn Game of the Year" (behind Dragon Force), commenting that both versions had been designed to take optimum advantage of each console's capabilities. They also named it runner-up for both "Action Game of the Year" (behind Die Hard Trilogy) and "Adventure Game of the Year" (behind Super Mario 64), as well as "Game of the Year" (again behind Super Mario 64).
In 2001 Game Informer ranked it the 86th best game ever made. They praised it for Lara's appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. The level of sophistication Tomb Raider reached by combining state-of-the-art graphics, an atmospheric soundtrack, and a cinematic approach to gameplay was at the time unprecedented. The resulting sales were consequential, topping the British charts a record three times, and contributing much to the success of the PlayStation. In the previous year, Eidos Interactive had recorded a nearly $2.6 million in pre-tax loss. The success of the game turned this loss into a $14.5 million profit in a year.
As one of the top selling games of the PlayStation console, it was one of the first to be released on PlayStation's Platinum series, and its success made Tomb Raider II the most anticipated game of 1997. It also won a multitude of Game of the Year awards from leading industry publications. In 1998, Tomb Raider won the Origins Award for Best Action Computer Game of 1997. The Lara Croft character was prominently featured in the popular media outside the realm of video gaming, for instance on the cover of pop culture magazine The Face in June 1997. In the final issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, the game was chosen as the fourth best game of all time. Tomb Raider, along with its successor, Tomb Raider II, are the two best selling games in the franchise.
Nevertheless, Tomb Raider received some criticism for minor camera and object glitches. Additionally, some fans complained about the lack of action in the game, in favour of puzzle solving. Ironically, Tomb Raider II would be criticised for its overabundance of violence, especially against human opponents.
GameSpot listed Tomb Raider on their "15 Most Influential Games of All Time", saying it served as a template for many 3D action-adventure games that would follow and helped drive the market for 3D accelerator cards for PCs. The game's use of a hard-edged, female heroine has been both hailed as revolutionary (breaking away from the male perspective of game playing) and undergone multi-factorial, critiques that either consider Lara's portrayal to be a positive, visual metaphor of sexual empowerment, or objectifying and sexist. Aside from game appearances, Lara was featured on covers of magazines, in comic books and movies. The amount of media coverage Lara received at the time was previously unheard of, with many magazines also outside the video game industry printing articles on her. Several large corporations, such as Timberland, and Lucozade wanted to use her as their spokesperson. The image of Lara Croft was used by U2 in their PopMart Tour.
The Tomb Raider series was credited with six official Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include Most Official Real Life Stand-ins, Highest-Grossing Video-game Movie, and Most Recognizable Female Video-Game Character.
An infamous footnote in Lara's history is the so-called Nude Raider patch. This patch was created externally and was never housed on the Eidos or Core websites. The patch, when added to an existing Tomb Raider game (PC-based versions only), caused Lara to appear naked. Contrary to rumour, there is no nude code in any console version of the game. In 1999, Core Design considered taking legal action against websites, which hosted nude pictures of Lara Croft, stating that "we have a large number of young fans and we don't want them stumbling across the pictures when they do a general search for Tomb Raider". In April 2004, it was falsely alleged that an insider from Eidos reported to a Tomb Raider electronic mailing list that Eidos had begun suing gamers using the Nude Raider patches. Eidos sent cease and desist letters to the owners of nuderaider.com who were hosting the Nude Raider patch, enforcing their copyright of Tomb Raider. Sites depicting nude images of Lara Croft have been sent cease and desist notices and shut down, and Eidos Interactive was awarded the rights to the domain name nuderaider.com.
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